Telecom operators in India warn people of coronavirus outbreak, share tips

Telecom operators in India have started to warn users of Covid-19 spread after more than three dozen cases have been detected in the nation.

Subscribers of Reliance Jio, Airtel, and state-run BSNL were greeted with a warning in Hindi and English when they attempted to make a phone call on Sunday. The message, locally known as “caller tune,” plays instead of regular phone ring.

“Always protect your face with a handkerchief or tissue while coughing or sneezing. Regularly clean hands with soap. Avoid touching your face, eyes, or nose. If someone has cough, fever, or breathlessness maintain one metre distance. If needed, visit your nearest health centre immediately,” the pre-recorded message said.

Vodafone, the top telecom operator in India, is in the process of implementing the warning message, while Airtel is looking to broaden the reach of its alert, people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. The initiative is being overseen by the nation’s ministries of health and telecommunications.

The coronavirus outbreak, which has made severe impact in many industries worldwide, is beginning to disrupt several businesses and livelihoods in India as well. Solar companies, and manufacturing and pharmaceutical firms, all of which source materials from China, are looking at the government for help.

To date, 43 cases of Covid-19 have been detected in the nation, three of whom have recovered fully.

A handful of firms have also advised their employees to work from home, in line with recent actions of several American giants. Financial services startup Paytm urged its employees in Noida and Gurgaon last week to not come to the office after one of the employees was tested positive with the new virus.

Chennai-headquartered cloud services firm Zoho told all its employees to work from home out of abundance of caution. IT conglomerate Tech Mahindra has made a similar push.